Small Wars Journal

Helping Others Defend Themselves

Helping Others Defend Themselves: The Future of U.S. Security Assistance - Robert M. Gates, Foreign Affairs.

The United States will continue to face security threats from failed states, writes Robert M. Gates, U.S. secretary of defense, but it is "unlikely to repeat a mission on the scale of those in Afghanistan or Iraq anytime soon--that is, forced regime change followed by nation building under fire." To face the threats of the future, then, Washington will need to "get better at what is called 'building partner capacity': helping other countries defend themselves or, if necessary, fight alongside U.S. forces by providing them with equipment, training, or other forms of security assistance." Currently, the resources to build partner capacity are spread across many parts of the government and military. What is needed, argues Gates, is a pooled fund for capacity building that is shared between the Defense Department and State Department. Such a fund would be able to deal with failed states more effectively and would "create incentives for collaboration between different agencies of the government."

"For the most part, however, the United States' instruments of national power-military and civilian-were set up in a different era for a very different set of threats. The U.S. military was designed to defeat other armies, navies, and air forces, not to advise, train, and equip them. Likewise, the United States' civilian instruments of power were designed primarily to manage relationships between states, rather than to help build states from within."

Read the full article at Foreign Affairs.


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